Wellington Midsummer Fayre
Gadzooks… It’s the Wellington Midsummer Fayre!
The Midsummer Fayre takes place annually on the second Saturday in June, 10am – 3pm around Wellington’s Market Square, All Saints Church and Market Hall. Organised by Wellington H2A, it is funded with support from Wellington Market Company and Wellington Town Council – a great example of volunteer effort, the public purse and private sponsorship all working together to make something good happen.
Introduced by the town crier and with over 30 stalls set up outside the parish church, this annual event is inspired by the ancient June fayres that were being held in Wellington as far back as the 13th century, and the town’s annual ‘Jubilee’ celebrations of the 1770s.
The 2013 Midsummer Fayre takes place on Saturday 8th June, and will feature many of our regular performers including Jack the Jester and his fire-eaters, the Shrewsbury Morris Dancers, Wellington Brass Band and Odd Socks Folk Band. A few new faces will also be making an appearance – local soprano Stephanie Patterson and harpist Oliver Ritchie amongst them. You can download a copy of the programme here.
June fayres were taking place in Wellington at least as far back as the 13th century, when the town’s Market Charter of 1244 sanctioned a fayre to take place on the Vigil, Feast and Morrow of St Barnabas (10th-12th June). An important commercial event in Wellington’s calendar, it is likely that street entertainers would have been there to make the most of the large crowds and long hours of daylight – just as they are today.
Five hundred years later in the 1770s, the June fayres were still taking place, but the town’s most colourful annual celebration seems to have been the Wellington Jubilee. This was staged slightly earlier in the year at Whitsun, and was advertised in the newly established Shrewsbury Chronicle newspaper from 1773 – 78. Described then as an ‘ancient festival’, it perhaps dated back much further. It comprised ‘a breakfast of tea, coffee and chocolate’ on The Green (the area just north of the parish church), followed by a costumed procession through town and, at night, a ‘Ball and Assembly’.
It is from these past fayres and Jubilees that today’s re-vived Midsummer Fayre takes its inspiration, stirring together six centuries of festivities and folk culture from the 13th to the 19th centuries, when Wellington’s June fayres disappeared.